Big Shine’s “SAAZ 2020 Global Leaders Conference | A Perfect View into Sustainability” put Sustainability on center stage on January 30th at the Westin Jersey City Newport hotel. The inspiration for SAAZ – Sustainability Awards #ApproachingZero – began with Big Shine Energy’s #ApproachingZero campaign, launched in 2015.

Big Shine CEO welcomed the distinguished guests that gathered for SAAZ2020, and in his keynote address he explained why Big Shine had taken this leadership role in sustainability: “As a global corporation we knew we had to take responsibility and head in a sustainable direction. We decided to launch the campaign to inspire other corporations to jump on the sustainability train towards a carbon neutral future. Being sustainable is not simply a trend or an annual report aggregated from data; it is the way to secure the future of the generations. Sustainability also means a healthy planet suitable enough to comfortably raise our families.”

Mr. Rodriguez, Big Shine USA’s Executive Director, explained our unique “Turn-Key” business model and detailed how it enables the rapid and confident adoption of sustainability solutions into the diverse array of commercial, industrial, healthcare and government organizations.

Big Shine CTO Kruesi explained why education was always at the forefront of Big Shine’s marketing efforts: “The more understanding you have of the technology that you are putting into your facilities, the more in control you are of your savings, energy-usage, the happiness and productivity of your employees, and the wellbeing of our environment. Having complete knowledge is powerful and leads to real Sustainability success.” Kruesi also announced the formation of two new Big Shine Turn-Key solution divisions: our Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems and our Modular LED Display product line.

Cox Enterprises explained how Cox had established aggressive, enterprise-wide goals to achieve carbon, waste and water neutrality. Citing examples of how the CEO’s Challenge had inspired and engaged Cox employees at all levels to develop creative sustainability solutions within Cox and encouraged employee volunteerism to advance sustainability for their communities

Lithia Motors is one of America’s largest auto dealer networks, with 180 locations. The Sustainability Project Manager for Lithia shared the actions that Lithia had taken in their comprehensive approach. These included Big Shine LED lighting, new HVAC technologies, and the installation of EV charging stations. Lithia has shown that they are not only one of the largest automotive dealer enterprises, they are also a leader in sustainability commitment and innovation.

One of the Energy Engineer’s with ICF, rounded out the panel of keynote speakers by explaining how we, as enterprise energy consumers, can take initiative and can benefit from a wide selection of sustainability technologies. Speaking from the utility perspective, encouraging the participants to take advantage of the many financial incentive programs that are available today. He put these in perspective by providing an overview of the timetable and requirements to meet the new Climate Action Law in New York City.

One of the goals of SAAZ is to provide recognition for those who have embraced sustainability and made significant accomplishments over the past year. This recognition comes from peers, and awardees report that receiving a SAAZ Award excited the attention of top management and led to the reaction, “Wow, this is great! What is our next step?” Recipient organizations also announced their SAAZ award to shareholders, employees, customers and their communities. All of this spreads the awareness that sustainability is achievable in every organization, both large and small, and that the individual technologies are manageable and understandable. SAAZ truly brought sustainability leaders together to unite, share experiences, collaborate and plan together for a brighter future.

The list of SAAZ awardees is both distinguished and diverse: Starbucks Coffee, Lithia Motors, SYSCO Corporation, JLL Property Management, Holman Automotive, Covanta, New York Public Library, Automann USA, the Federal General Services Administration (GSA), William Patterson University, College of St. Rose, and Iona College.

Just as the Digital Age completely changed our way of thinking, our time marks the dawn of the “Sustainability Age”. This, too, will completely change our thinking. SAAZ provided a wonderful forum for networking and informal sharing, but there were also formal Education Sessions which presented the latest in sustainability in four powerful topic areas:

  • “Energy-Efficiency Projects & Remaining Cash Flow Positive” | Ascentium Capital
  • “Sustainability in the Automotive Industry” | Lithia Motors; Big Shine Energy
  • “Sustainable Cities and the Law” | U.S. Green Building Council; Big Shine Energy
  • “LED lighting and the Workplace” | Lighting Research Center at RPI; Big Shine Energy

In addition to the formal education tracks guests were treated to hands-on demonstrations of photometric software, virtual reality simulation, solar energy panels and LED lighting displays, and a vivid demonstration of Big Shine’s new modular LED display

SAAZ2020 was a day to remember. Every participant brought something of value, and also came away with something of value. Our challenge and our opportunity are clear.

Now is the time to ignite our organizations and communities so that SAAZ2021 will not show double the results, but rather 10 times, or 20 times the results. As our CEO has said, “Being sustainable is the way to secure the future of the generations.”